State still under ‘fire alert’
All 67 counties in Alabama remain under a fire alert, which was originally issued on September 25 by the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC). The small amount of rain received throughout the state in the last few days has not been enough to end drought conditions or wildfire danger. Since the first of October, AFC wildland firefighters have already responded to 173 wildfires burning approximately 1,835 acres across Alabama. These numbers include a 365-acre fire in Sumter County and one for 122 acres in Shelby County. In September, the agency recorded 472 wildfires that scorched over 6,000 acres.
“We are not yet out of this drought, so we really want to make as stern a warning as we can regarding fire safety and prevention. As a cold front approaches this weekend, if the winds intensify and/or relative humidity drops, we will probably see wildfire activity increase,” said John Goff, AFC forest protection division director. “With the arrival of autumn and leaves beginning to fall, we know that people want to rake and burn to clean up their yards. However, when everything is this dry, any size fire can escape quickly,” he continued. “We ask citizens to wait until we receive sufficient rain before doing any burning. Outdoor fires are extremely dangerous right now. Any spark, from a campfire or even a discarded cigarette, can trigger a wildfire in these dry conditions.”
The Fire Alert will remain in effect until rescinded by the State Forester, at which time conditions will have changed sufficiently to reduce the occurrence and frequency of wildfires. While under a Fire Alert, permits for outdoor burning are restricted and issued on an individual basis at the discretion of the State Forester. Anyone who burns a field, grassland, or woodland without a burn permit may be subject to prosecution for committing a Class B misdemeanor.